30 Hours Free Childcare

Information for parents about the 30 hours free childcare being launched in September 2017

Increase in Free Childcare for 3 and 4 Year Olds

From September 2017 childcare funding for working parents will increase to 30 hours a week. Early Education Funding currently covers up to 15 hours of childcare a week and is available for three and four year olds.

The new entitlement to 30 hours free childcare is to help working parents with the cost of childcare and enable them, where they wish, to return to work or to work additional hours.

Applying for 30 Hours Free Childcare

Parents who want to access the 30 hours free childcare entitlement from September, can now apply using the online Childcare Service.

Please note, if you become eligible for 30 hours part-way through the term, you can start claiming the additional hours the term following the date on which you receive your code.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Children must be 3 or 4 years old by 31 August 2017 to be eligible from 1 September 2017.

  • The additional 15 hours will be available to families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family), and each parent earns a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage or living wage, and less than £100,000 per year.

  • The national living wage will come into force for workers aged 25 and over from April 2016 and operate alongside the national minimum wage for workers under the age of 25. This means that, when the extended entitlement goes live, a working parent who is over 25 will need to earn a weekly minimum equivalent of £115.20 whereas a working parent who is 21 will need to earn a weekly minimum equivalent of around £107 (at this year’s rates).

  • In general, families where one parent does not work (or neither parent works) will not be eligible for these additional hours. However, the Government intends to make provision so that parents in certain circumstances will be regarded as being in work. This includes couple families where one parent is in receipt of benefits relating to caring responsibilities or their disability.

  • Part-time and self-employed working parents as well as working parents employed on zero-based contracts will all be eligible to apply for the extended entitlement – provided they are each earning a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours a week at either the national minimum wage or the national living wage.

  • If unemployed, you and your partner must become employed within 14 days of applying.

Circumstances where you may still be eligible

You can still apply for 30 hours free childcare if you or your partner are:

  • taking paid time off work, such as maternity leave, paternity leave or sick leave
  • temporarily away from England for a period of up to 6 months, such as if you're in the
    military (on duty)
  • already getting Universal Credit or tax credits

You can also still apply for 30 hours free childcare if either you or your partner are employed or self-employed and one of you gets one or more of the following benefits:

  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit or long-term Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • National Insurance credits because of incapacity or limited capability for work
  • you've been assessed as having limited capability for work for Universal Credit purposes.

Starting School

All 3 and 4-year-old children are entitled to up to 6 terms of Early Education Funding, commencing in the term following their third birthday.

This ceases at the point a child enters the Reception Class of a school or academy. 

Some schools operate a phased entry into their reception classes during the Autumn Term (for example, a delayed start to the term or just mornings or afternoons).

During this phased entry, some parents choose to access a pre-school place for the periods of time their child is not in school.

Parents who make this choice will need to pay the full costs of that place to their provider, as their child’s entire funding entitlement for a full time place is being received directly by the school or academy.

We encourage you to apply for the extended entitlement the term before you wish to claim your child’s place.

Contact Us


General Enquiries

01202 451451


Customer Services Centre

St Stephens Road


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